Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Understanding”

Helping Others Understand

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” …  Do you still not understand?  Don’t you remember … But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.    Matthew 16:5-12   NIV 1984

The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”  …  Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.    Matthew 17:10-13  NIV 1984

Jesus had multiple times where the Twelve were slow to grasp the meaning of His teaching or their experiences with Him.  He demonstrates amazing patience as they struggle to really understand the meaning of all that was happening.  Sometimes we can see what appears to be a chiding of them or a mild exhortation (“How will you understand any parable?”), but he does wait for them to come to a fuller grasp of the subject.  He does not ‘spoon feed’ them; they have to exercise their own thought process.

In the first example in Matthew 16 the statement from Jesus was about avoiding the yeast of the Pharisees.  Having just come from two miracles of feeding thousands, the context seemed to dictate the subject of literal bread.  This was compounded by the fact that they did have any bread to eat, having forgotten it before they got on board.  So they concluded, perhaps He meant, “When we get off, don’t go purchasing any yeast from certain types of religious bread dealers?”

Note that when Jesus queried them about both miracles they accurately repeated the facts of their experience.  They knew how many were fed and how much was left over.  Though they knew the facts they did not understand the meaning.  After some further reflection, they understood the true meaning was to avoid the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The second instance begins with a question from the disciples about a prophecy regarding the coming of ‘Elijah’ before the coming of the Messiah.  They were growing in their understanding the Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, but then who was this ‘Elijah’ that was to come before Him?  With a little explanation, they came to understand that it was John the Baptist.  Note that Jesus did not tell them this plainly who it was, they had to deduce it from his explanation.

Sometimes those we lead require a little more help from us to ensure that they truly grasp what they are hearing or experiencing.  Don’t assume that just because they know the details that they truly understand the meaning.

Are you discerning or assuming that those around you understand?

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

                                                                    Luke 24:45  NIV 1984

Becoming a Wise Leader – #1

Becoming a leader who is wise is a noble pursuit.  The complexity of leadership demands wisdom from above.  But where to begin?  How will I know if I’ve attained it?

It would seem that the place to begin is with the definition of terms.  As we study the book of Proverbs (the book on the subject of wisdom), it becomes apparent that there are three words used frequently in connection to each other.  These three are:  knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  For a long time I searched for good definitions on these words and their interrelatedness, but was not able to discover it until a few years ago.  Here’s what I currently understand them to mean and how they relate.

Knowledge is the accumulation of facts.  It is the foundation from which understanding and wisdom arise.  There is much knowledge in the world and today, and with the Internet, we have access to amazing resources for accumulating vast amounts of knowledge.  Our challenge is how to keep from being overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge now available and how to search it and categorize it well, so that it becomes useful for us.  Knowledge is helpful (especially for Trivial Pursuit games), but it alone will not help us in leading a life that is pleasing to God.  An example of knowledge (facts) would be:  We know that water is made up of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen.  A water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

Understanding is the ability to see the interconnectedness and relationships between a series of seemingly unrelated facts (knowledge).  Once one has gathered a variety of knowledge, these facts must be connected in our minds to give us understanding of how things work or how they impact each other.  Scientific research seeks to demonstrate this through repeatable experiments that demonstrate the relationship of various elements.  Once this is shown to be repeatable, we arrive at understanding.  For example, when we combine heat and water, we know that the water will boil at 212º F.  By combining the facts we know about water and heat, we understand that by turning on a stove and applying heat to the bottom of the pan of water, it will boil at 212º F, given enough heat and time.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge and understanding to life.  All wisdom is a gift from God that allows humans to live lives that are pleasing to Him.  All humans have the ability to understand wisdom on some level.  There is “common wisdom” and then, “spiritual wisdom.”  All have access to common wisdom, but only those who have the Holy Spirit living within will have the ability to understand the deeper things of God and what I refer to as spiritual wisdom.  This type of wisdom must be pursued, it just doesn’t happen by experience.  We can ask for it (James 1:5) and it will be given to us by God.  This wisdom is the secret to life and is the key to success in the eyes of God (I’m defining success as living a life pleasing to God).  We can always grow in wisdom, for we are learning about God Himself, who is infinite, and therefore we will never exhaust the source of this wisdom.

An example of common wisdom is this, following our example above.  I know and understand that water boils when heated on a stove and also that if I touch it, I will be burned.  Then, if I’m in the kitchen heating some water, I decide not to put my hand in the pan of water when I see it bubbling.  That would be a very wise decision!

Spiritual wisdom springs from the knowledge of God, His character, and His Word.  This spiritual knowledge leads to spiritual understanding on how God works – the ways of God.  And spiritual wisdom is the application of our knowledge of God and His ways into our daily decisions.  It is this spiritual wisdom that God gives to Kingdom leaders to help us accomplish His purposes in us and through our leadership.  We will continue this discussion next week.

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